Join Dana Robinson for an in-depth discussion in this video What is copyright law?, part of Intellectual Property Fundamentals.
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First question most people ask me about copyright law is simply what is it? They often think that they can use copyright law to protect their idea. So they, they say I have a great idea, how can I copyright that? And you actually can't use copyright law to protect ideas. Copyright law protects the expression. The idea once it has been put into a tangible thing, a medium of expression. So a typical example of what you can copyright is a book. If you've written the book you can copyright the book.
You can't copyright the idea of the book. You can copyright photos that you've actually taken. You can copyright a painting that you've painted. You can copyright a sculpture that you've sculpted, and, you can copyright computer code if it's original work of authorship, if it's something you have actually created, not that you've taken from somebody else. So the copyright is going to cover things that have been, been, been created. Creative works is another easy reference to think of what can I do with copyright law? So, there's two essential requirements. An original work of authorship, and it needs to be fixed in tangible form.
It doesn't need to be completed, but it should be something that has become fixed. You have done something that becomes physical, and then can be, photographed to be submitted to the copyright office, or it can be shown, it, it can be exhibited to say, this is the thing I've copyrighted. The, the thing about copyright law is that it doesn't protect the idea embedded in your expression. So you could paint a flower and protect your particular painting of a flower but you're not going to be able to stop somebody from painting their own flower.
The same is true on an even more complicated level. Imagine a story about a, a loner who becomes friendly with hostile natives and then eventually becomes one of them, and then ends up becoming adverse to the people that he once was with. This is a story that we've probably seen a few times. It sounds a little bit like Avatar. It sounds a little bit like The Last Samurai. It sounds a little bit like Dances with Wolves.
There are a number of movies that wrap around that theme. The idea that I just explained isn't protectable. But the particular story that packages around it, that expression, that will be protectable, and you can protect that under copyright law. additionally, if something that's could be copyrighted is primarily functional, then copyright law won't protect it. There was a famous case with a bike rack you may have seen these that, that are squiggly bike racks.
That the author alleged was a sculptural work, it was a three dimensional sculptural work, it was art. And therefore the artist rightfully in the beginning thought well I should be able to protect this But the the courts found that this was actually too utilitarian. It was used to position bikes against to lock bikes up, and therefore it's primary function was utilitarian and therefore it couldn't be protected as a work of art. We call this the utilitarian function. If something has utility, then it's, copyright protection is going to be either diminished or have no protection whatsoever.
In terms of databases, is a very frequent question that people ask. Can databases be protected? And the answer is not necessarily. Data is not protectable. Databases as a whole can be protected. So if someone steals an entire database, then you might be able to sue them for infringing the entire database. But the data in it isn't protectable because the data is not an original work of authorship. It's simply a bunch of data. The information in a list in an online database or directory of addresses, for example.
The individual units of data are not, they're not creative works of authorship. They're just data. But the assembly of those into a database together, compiled. It can be protectable, as an original work of authorship because someone has selected and arranged the data in a particular way.
The information in this course applies only to the United States.
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DISCLAIMER: This course is taught by an attorney and addresses US law concepts that may not apply in all countries. Neither LInkedIn nor the attorney teaching the course represents you and they are not giving legal advice. The information conveyed through this course is akin to a college or law school course; it is not intended to give legal advice, but instead to communicate basic information to help viewers understand the basics of intellectual property.
- What is intellectual property?
- What is a copyright?
- How long do copyrights last?
- Trademarking your brand
- Trademark infringement
- Patenting your ideas
- Defending trade secrets<br><br>
- The PMI Registered Education Provider logo is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.